Brian Shechtman: The History of Santa Claus in America
Brian Shechtman: TheHistory of Santa Claus inAmerica
Business owner Brian Shechtman oversees everyaspect of Santas Enchanted Forest, a renownedChristmas-themed park with more than 100 ridesand attractions that delight guests every winter.Shechtmans creation remains a populardestination, and it celebrates many facets of theholiday season, including Santa Claus.
Originally associated with the Dutch, the legend ofSanta Claus arrived in America with early settlers.However, it did not obtain popularity until after theRevolutionary War. During the late 18th centuryand early 19th century, author Washington Irvinginspired study into Dutch traditions through hisstories. He included Santa Claus in his comic“The History of New York City.” Additionally,Americas first St. Nicholas Anniversary Dinneroccurred in 1810, but he was still drawn as moreof a religious figure.
The 19th century further filled out the Santa“canon.” In 1822, Clement Moore wrote “A Visitfrom St. Nicholas.” This poem later adopted thename “The Night before Christmas” and becamea seminal work. Forty years after Mooreintroduced his story, artist Thomas Nastreimagined Santa Claus in a series of drawingsfor Harpers Weekly. These pictures establishedwhat is still the traditional image of Santa--a fat,bearded, happy man. Nasts cartoons alsointroduced the concepts of Santa living at theNorth Pole and the naughty/nice children’s book.